Rewilding the psyche

I have tried very hard to be a better person. Over many years of education, personal development work, therapy and spiritual engagement, I have given significant swathes of my energy over to the project of improving myself – seeking to become more of the good stuff and less of the limiting stuff. As T.S. Eliot promised it would, it all led back to the beginning and the realisation that in fact nothing needs to change, and true liberation can be found exactly where we are – where we started. Here are the lines from ‘Little Gidding’

We shall not cease from exploration

And the end of all our exploring

Shall be to arrive where we started

And know the place for the first time.

(Now I have looked up the Four Quartets for this quote from Little Gidding I want to bring much more of those lovely poems in to the blog….watch this space for that….!)

I want to think further about arriving where we started, and ceasing striving for what is already fully there. I want to suggest that we think about this as a process of rewilding. Not just dwelling with who we are in a peaceful and content way, but radically surrendering to a stripping down of…..something, in order to be open to what can be brought to us as the kind of knowing that arises in us when we make space for it.

What am I getting at here? Take the garden as an example. We can tend a garden, making it a beautiful and consciously created thing by bringing our human action, thought, planning, love and intuition to the natural world. We make gardens. Gardens are contained by boundary walls, they are planned, and they are cultivated in some way – culture is brought to them, human consciousness comes in the shape of the gardener, and something is made. But what about the happy accident? The stray poppy that sneaks in among the marigolds, splashing scarlet in to the tangerine? Sometimes we let it be. And some people take this further – in fact it is increasingly fashionable to do so.

You can let your whole garden go like this, let it fly and give it over to what comes. Its good for the bees, good for the birds, good for the soul perhaps.

And what about doing this in your psyche? What about letting what wants to come and grow there have a space? What might you let in if you let a red poppy in to the marigolds of your plans? If you let your ideals get a bit weedy? Your moral code spill over on to the path? What might happen if you surrendered to the feelings and knowings that you have been hoeing off? Dared to think the thoughts you have been diligently pruning back year after year after year…?

This is an interesting thought experiment. You might think that humans who let themselves surrender too much will be taken over with instinctual violent and selfish urges, and that the whole point of gardening our psyche is to live together more successfully. But how successful are we? As we gobble up the plant, destroy all around us, defeat our home?

This is not a plea for unexamined chaos. In a rewilded psyche the poet still casts her eye across the landscape, looking for the patterns, listening to the messages in the breezes and the birdsong, feeling the breezes on her face and recognising the fragrances they bring. The poet – the alchemist – learns from what she receives from the wild garden – and the *unspecified generative force* behind it/within it (I am cagey about writing about some sort of god/goddess/spirit/source as those things feel very much part of the language of the cultivated garden and here we are looking more to the wild beyond).

This is perhaps the truth about eco psychology, a little rewilding of the psyche might be what is needed to bring us back to the richness and originality of our beginnings. Rewilding, to release us in to our potential for partnership with…….the unspecified generative force.

2 Replies to “Rewilding the psyche”

  1. Enjoyed this, thanks Sis An accurate analogy that I can identify with. Since my retirement from the rat race of “thedayjob”, I have gradually become accustomed to a different “me”, the artist, that for so many years had to take care of “thedayjob” before anything else. Rewilding indeed. Along with the “freedom” of retirement, the “me” that I was is now a much more at ease “me” with a new strength to tackle the creative “me” as a priority, rather than as a sort of afterthought. It is an important lesson in life to be prepared to rewild every now and again


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